This newsletter will bring you things I find in my public journey towards writing a book (or creating some equivalent digital artefact) about better thinking.
We need better thinking because:
- We're faced with ever more complex challenges. I'm going to focus on individual thinking because while groups can overcome some individual biases, better groups are built on more effective individuals.
- Advances in "Artificial Intelligence" may or may not come as quickly as some predict, but the rise of Machine Learning asks the question: "What are humans actually good at?" I think exploring this and finding ways to improve is vital.
- Alongside this, I've been educated in some great institutions, but my experience is we still treat "thinking skills" largely as something you pick up by osmosis as you explore subject matter. There is more to be discovered and lots of good work from the past that isn't well known enough.
Tools, Spaces and Principles For Thought
I subtitled Mind Atelier this way because I believe that key to improving our thinking is to use systems, tools and environments that can help us. An Atelier is a type of workshop, a place where tools live and where they are used. Software tools that might help are going through a very fashionable moment (Roam, Obsidian etc.) but I think this is only part of the story. When I co-created the IdeaKeg product we were seeking to take advantage of how following a process, using physical space and stimulus and recording tools could aid in thinking. Back then, it seemed a bit ahead of it's time - but reading this recent New York Times piece about Annie Murphy Paul's book "The Extended Mind" I think the time is now for us to use everything, not just software, to create better thinking. And don't worry, future newsletters will get more in-depth about different things we can use.
I wrote very briefly about some key influences including Aristotle, Creative Problem Solving, Anthropology, Systems Thinking, Nancy Kline and more - but I'd love to hear what have been the big influences on the way you think. Reply to this email or find me on Twitter and let me know!
Edward De Bono (19 May 1933 – 9 June 2021)
Anyone of my generation interested in thinking has been touched by the work of Edward De Bono. Incredibly prolific (over 60 books!) I think every one of us found things we thought were brilliant (e.g. his original exposition of lateral thinking), powerful but awkward (e.g. Six Thinking Hats), interesting but possibly too abstract (e.g, Po - Beyond Yes and No) and some books that just didn't strike a chord at all. The Guardian obituary gives a flavour of his work but I must say I found the tone towards the end rather sour. Some of the mockery directed at (for example) Six Thinking Hats seems more about a refusal to countenance that there may be more to thinking than whatever you learned in school. If you knew his work, take a moment to mark his passing, if you don't, it's worth taking a look.
- Today - 17th June - at 1715 London Time (BST) (not long after you receive this email) I will be discussing the evolution of productivity advice with Ziga Brencic in the slightly overnamed "Thinking Masterminds" Twitter Space. You can join here, which should work on both web app and phone, but you will only be able to speak if you join using your phone.
- Patricia Hurducas' fascinating series of three Interintellect Salons on Curation begins this Saturday June 19th at 1900 London Time (BST)
- Critical Systems Thinking: What has been done and what needs doing - June 22nd at 1200 BST - Professor Michael C Jackson will look back on his distinguished career in Systems Thinking research and talk about where these ideas need to go next.
- Thinking Masterminds will hold another Twitter space on on June 24th at 1715 BST discussing "Thinking and Overthinking". There is no link yet as Twitter Spaces does not yet allow scheduling more than one event at a time.
- Perception, Selfhood, and Consciousness - an Interintellect Salon with Anil Seth - June 30th at 2000 BST - this looks like a fascinating opportunity to discuss these complex topics.
- Thinking Masterminds will hold another Twitter space on the 1st July at 1715 BST - tentative topic - "Formal vs Informal Learning"
- And of course, Edition #002 of this newsletter will be out on Thursday 1st July afternoon London time - feel free to share this Edition with a friend before then. ;-)
Mind Atelier Newsletter
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